Ohio officials need $1.8 million to set the state medical marijuana program in motion. Most of the funds will be steered into newly employed personnel, a system of patient registration, and other databases.
The state needs to get $1.8 million by Sept. 8, when the marijuana legalization law will come into force. Two of the three agencies controlling the state program, namely the State Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Commerce, have already filed their requests with the Ohio Controlling Board.
If the requests are approved, this money will allow hiring nine staff members to write the rules and regulations for the state medical cannabis program, control the process of patients registration and dispensaries licensing. The rest of the funds will be paid as a remuneration to consultants and advisory committee members. The agencies are expecting to repay the money with future revenue received from licensing dispensaries and patients.
The Pharmacy Board requests $882,400 for licensing and regulating medical cannabis dispensaries and operating the patient registry. The agency is also authorized to decide what marijuana strains and paraphernalia are legal. The board cannot approve any methods of cannabis use that have to do with smoking. In addition, the board will regulate the list of medical conditions qualifying for marijuana treatment.
$302,000 of the requested funding will allow the board to hire a legal assistant, two licensing coordinators, and an attorney, and to pay for travel costs of board members per diem. Moreover, the development of patient and dispensary registration system along with the upgrading of the Automated Rx Reporting System require $521,700. The other funds will be spent for equipment, supplies, and facility renovations.
The Department of Commerce is asking for $923,077 to license medical marijuana growers, researchers, and testing labs. The department is going to spend $422,000 of those funds for hiring five employees, $300,000 for stipends for consultants and initial development of databases, and the rest of money for the agency supplies, equipment, and administrative costs.
The Ohio Medical Board will also be involved in the state medical cannabis program, but the board is not going to request additional funding. Though the agency is still in the process of estimating potential costs, they have already calculated that the enactment of the bill will cost them $300,000 per year.
After passing the bill earlier this year, Ohio must be ready to operate the state medical marijuana program by September 2018. However, this could happen earlier. Currently, the state is developing a highly regulated "seed-to-sale" system for cultivating, testing, and supplying medical cannabis to treat patients with qualified medical conditions. At the same time, Ohio legislation prohibits smoking cannabis and growing it at home.